Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The History of the Creation of the Hubble Telescope


For centuries, even with all our discoveries and technological advancements, mankind’s quest for knowledge and understanding of the universe has continually grown. Since the days of Galileo, astronomers have always sought to see farther and understand more. And the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 is somewhat the greatest advances that has been made to this end till date.

The Hubble Space Telescope is an advanced technological space equipment that provides the deepest view of the universe by moving round the earth's orbit. For over 15 years, the device has been provided scientist and astronomers with amazing pictures captures from the cosmos, which has consequently led to many important discoveries. Especially those that concern the origin and the future of the universe. As we continue to marvel and appreciate how much Hubble has achieved, let's consider some important dates and circumstances that lead to the creation of this powerful telescope.

When it all started

Though Hubble was launched in 1990, it was not until 1923 that the first idea of a telescope that could orbit in space, was first conceived by Hermann Oberth. However, it was not until until 1946 before the idea started to gain ground following Lyman Spitzer's proposal of a space observatory

Then, later in 1969, the Large Space Telescope project was approved by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA. However, the original plan for the observatory was downsized due to the lack of funds. This led to reduction in the number of instruments that were to be supported by the telescope, as well as the mirror size.

After five years, the group that was in charge of the project then proposed a space telescope that would support a number of instruments that could be replaced. Later on in 1975, the European Space Agency, ESA, partnered with NASA to commence plans to build a telescope that would eventually become Hubble.

Project and Progress

Not long after, the plan was approved by the Congress with funds to kickstart the project. After receiving several proposals from various scientific bodies, the design and building of the telescope was awarded to Marshall Space Flight Center. While Goddard Space Flight Center was assigned the design and construction of the science instruments that will be carried by the observatory. Assembly was awarded to the Perkin-Elmer Corporation, while Lockheed Martin was contracted to assemble and test the telescope, as well as the supporting systems. Several programs were later initiated to ensure the safe launching of Hubble into space.

After a failed attempt to in 1986, the group eventually succeeded in launching Hubble into orbit in 1990 after making series of improvements. However, even then, the image captured by the telescope were blur. 

This problem was eventually corrected by scientists and engineers in 1993 by replacing some of Hubble's instruments with optics called COSTAR and newer WFPC2. The crew also made other upgrades to enhance the performance of the telescope.

Hubble was finally working, and delivered its first clear pictures on January 13, 1994. In 1997, it was service and a number of spectrographs were replaced. However, before it's next servicing, the Hubble mission was aborted after a Space Shuttle broke apart while returning home.

But then several efforts were made by NASA and the scientific community to extend the mission till 2013, before it was finally replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope.

However, Hubble's discoveries and legacy will continually be treasured by the world.

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